By Laurynn Davey, Assistant Editor
Photos from Google
Hosted by comedian, actor, and writer Trevor Noah, this year’s Grammy award ceremony was unlike any other. Set outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, Trevor entertained a socially-distanced audience of nominees and expressed his excitement for each performance and the night’s winners. Personally, I enjoyed how laid back the ceremony was. Artists performed and cheered for each other, celebrating their achievements despite the world’s dramatic shift. The casual atmosphere was entertaining—past winners such as Lizzo joked with her friends, and loud engines of sports cars interrupting acceptance speeches from time to time.
Despite the small complications that came with an outdoor venue, the nominees were all in good spirits. Harry Styles kicked off the Grammys with a performance of his hit song “Watermelon Sugar,” which won him a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. Not only was this Styles’ first Grammy performance, but it was also the first year he was nominated and won a Grammy for his music.
His performance was shortly followed by the country band HAIM, who were nominated for Album of the Year, and pop star Billie Eilish who was also nominated for multiple awards including Record of the Year, Best Song Written for Visual Media, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. Throughout the night, female artists gave an incredible show and went above and beyond for their performances. Dua Lipa provided an energetic and “out of this world” performance of her two hit songs, “Levitating” (along with rap star DaBaby) and “Don’t Start Now.” Both songs are singles from Dua’s album Future Nostalgia, which rightfully won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift created an entirely new world on stage, while Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion gave a very “hot” and exhilarating live debut of the song “WAP” after Megan took the stage herself to perform her songs “Savage” and “Body.”
Following her amazing performances, female rapper Megan Thee Stallion had an impressive night, winning three of the four categories she was nominated for. Megan won Best New Artist, and her song “Savage” took home the awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. While receiving the award for Best Rap Song, Megan thanked Beyoncé for featuring on the track, saying she “loves her work and who she is.” Both Megan and Beyoncé then took the time to thank Houston, TX, where they’re both from.
Beyoncé later broke the record for most Grammy wins in history for a female artist, after winning the awards for Best R&B Performance, Best Music Video, Best Rap Song (with Megan Thee Stallion), and Best Rap Performance (also with Megan Thee Stallion). Her 28th Grammy was presented in honor of her song “Black Parade,” a song celebrating black power. During her acceptance speech, she mentioned wanting to “uplift, encourage, and celebrate all of the beautiful black queens and kings” that continue to inspire her and the world.
Before Beyoncé’s speech about black excellence, popular rapper Lil Baby, assisted by Killer Mike, gave an eye-opening performance that called out racism and police brutality. His powerful performance was a nod back to the summer of 2020 when protests formed all over the country in response to the death of George Floyd. He performed his Best Rap Performance nominated song “The Bigger Picture.”
Beyoncé was not the only record-breaker of the night. Taylor Swift joined Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder as the fourth artist to win Album of the Year three times with her album Folklore. She is the first female artist to achieve such an honor, and she did so in three different genres for each album: country, pop, and alternative. Folklore came at a time when spirits were low, as society was beaten down by the pandemic, jobs were lost, lives were at stake, and mental health was affected. Swift shocked the world when she announced her album Folklore, a collection of songs she had written and produced with Aaron Dessner (band member of The National) and Jack Antonoff (lead singer for Bleachers)during quarantine. This album had become a staple of 2020 and the effects of COVID-19, allowing the world to escape their struggles for an hour and seven minutes.
The ceremony concluded with a performance by Korean boyband BTS and the award for Record of the Year, which was given to Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas for their song “Everything I Wanted.” BTS performed their hit song “Dynamite” in their home country, recreating the Grammys stage. Their song was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance but lost to the song “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Billie, who broke a record last year by becoming the youngest Album of the Year winner, gave a heartwarming speech by addressing Megan Thee Stallion, whom she felt instead deserved the Grammy. “I was going to write a speech about how you deserve this, but then I was like ‘There’s no way they’re going to choose me.’ I was like, ‘It’s hers,'” she told Megan. Billie also won Record of the Year the previous year for her song “Bad Guy.”
With an outdoor venue, game-changing performances, and broken records, the 2021 Grammy Ceremony is one to remember. If you missed the big night, a full list of winners can be found on the recording academy’s website. Performances are also being uploaded to YouTube.